My last B.A.S.S. event

I came across an old picture the other day that at first I thought was a young Robert Redford with a string of bass … but then I put my glasses on.

Actually the picture comes from the first day of a B.A.S.S. event, held on Toledo Bend Reservoir, in 1970. 

Those were the days when you could weigh in 10 fish, and mine totaled around 30 pounds if I remember correctly. That tied me with a really good angler by the name of Pete Henson, for first place. 

Sorry about the “stringer.” 

Didn’t know any better at that time.

I remember so many things from that event and one being that this was the last B.A.S.S. tournament I would fish.  Of course that’s no big deal, but the fact that this was the first tournament that Roland Martin would fish, is a big deal. 

In a bit I will show you the top 20 finishers at the end of three days, which is how many they fished back then, and I think you’ll find the list interesting. 

But let’s go back to that first day’s fishing. After all these 40-plus years, I just can’t remember the name of my no-boater, but believe it or not, I do remember that he was from Evansville, Ind. 

The last day of practice, I got a few bites in a timber filled pocket down the lake, so that’s where I started.  Had no idea that this small area had so many fish in it, and I caught all the fish I would weigh-in.  Those are the fish in the picture.

In those times, the technique of flippin’ or pitchin’ hadn’t been discovered yet, but it wouldn’t have worked on that day anyway.  You see, this was 1970 and Toledo Bend timber was still full of limbs and leaves and the only way you could get a lure to the bottom was to go over to the tree and drop the bait right straight down the trunk.

That’s what I did with a ½ ounce jig and pork trailer, in about 10 or 12 feet of water.  For a while, every time it hit the base of the tree, something would smack it.  As I remember, the only problem with this technique was the fact that I couldn’t get my non-boater on to it, and after going all around the pocket, I finally left with a good limit and he never caught a fish. 

Never caught much more the rest of the day and ended up going in with a great weight and my partner had a zero.  I remember feeling really bad for him and although I looked a little suspicious, no one said anything about it. 

Day Two was a nightmare for me.  I think I caught 5 or 6 pounds, and of course I started in that same spot.  Must have gone around that pocket 18 times and dropped that jig on every tree at least 5 times … never got a strike.  That whole school of fish must have picked up and moved to the next county. 

I probably dropped to about 15th place going into the third and last day, and my old buddy,Tom Mann, had moved up in the top 10. 

His only problem was that he felt like he had run out of fish, and he came to me with a plan.  He said, “I’ll take you where I caught ‘em yesterday, if you’ll take me where you caught that first day.”

I had nothing to lose with that, because I thought my bass were long gone, and I told him so.  That was the plan though.  But we never really got to put it in place. 

You see, about 10 miles south of the Pendleton Bridge, with me following Tom down a boat trail, Tom hit a submerged log and knocked the motor off his boat.  Yes, knocked it off.  Took us the rest of the morning to get back to the Pendleton Bridge marina.

As I remember, we both got to fish a little in the afternoon, but neither had much success. 

So, as you look at the picture of my first day catch, you have to assume I was pretty happy.  Little did I know how it would end. 

My last experience of fishing a B.A.S.S. event was kind of a bummer, but here’s the good news.  Roland Martin’s first, was not a bummer.  We all know how that turned out. 

Here are the final 20 places from that Toledo Bend Bassmaster event in 1970. 

Wow, I won $125.

Place Angler Total Weight Cash Winnings ($)
1 Mike Bono 94.4 2,600
2 Roland Martin 77.6 1,000
3 Gerald Blanchard 72.1 500
4 Carlos Mayo 70.15 350
5 Elroy Krueger 69 300
6 Pete Henson 65.14 250
7 Billy Murray 63.3 200
8 Curt Vanvelkenburgh 61.15 165
9 Carl Dyess 61.2 160
10 Glynn Carver 61 150
11 Jimmy Williams 60.13 145
12 Tom Mann 60.13 140
13 Bill Dance 55 135
14 Mickey Geisler 54.15 130
15 Clark Taylor 49.11 125
16 Wallace Len 48.2 125
17 H L Price 0 125
18 Jerry McKinnis 47.9 125
19 Forrest Wood 46.8 125
20 Gene Mays 45.15 125

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